In 2009 James Cameron’s Avatar began it’s journey to becoming the biggest grossing movie of all time.
News of planned sequels has been whispered on and off ever since, but earlier this year the rumours were confirmed when details of actual filming surfaced. Now The Guardian reports that Cameron has finished principle photography for the first two of the four planned movies. Is it all too late, especially as the first of the sequels isn’t due out till 2020?
Cameron’s apparently leisurely approach to producing the sequels has in part been down to the technology. Avatar broke the mould on movie tech. The world-building, design (more than a little influenced by artists like Roger Dean), 3D processing and CG intermixing were (and in some respects still are) unparalleled. No point trying to follow that up with anything less than perfect.
3D has been called a fad, and that’s not entirely wrong. Even though some native 3D films like Peter Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy were almost a match for Avatar, conversions have routinely been less convincing. The numbers for bums-on-seats haven’t put 3D in any preferential positions over the 2D offerings. Done right, however, it can be jaw-dropping. The fall of the Home Tree in Avatar was one of the most perfect sequences of 3D CG ever committed to screen.
So, is the long delay going to make for box-office disappointment for Cameron? The intervening decade has brought an entire Universe of Marvel blockbusters and some rather successful Star Wars offerings, all of which will have diverted attention just a bit from Pandora’s side of the galaxy.
It’s not the fans Cameron has to persuade – they (yes, me too) will happily find themselves a seat and lap it up in all its 3D CG glory. It will be glorious – if there is one thing you can guarantee from Cameron it’s that he will make it look fabulous.
The real struggle will be to get everyone else, who have probably forgotten Pandora and the Na’vi by now, to take a seat.
But Cameron has been here before – Titanic was a surefire flop, according to predictions. Instead it was the first film to gross over $1 billion (and that in around 74 days). That sum is coincidentally the budget for the four Avatar sequels. It sounds like a gamble, but, again, it’s Cameron. He has a habit of taking those gambles and shoving them rather emphatically right in the faces of all predictions of catastrophe.
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